50 Illustrated Theatre Production Guide 2 ed
absorbing pile. Duvetyn is a less-expensive substitute.
Duvetyn has a nappy, textural surface but no actual pile.
This nappy surface helps to trap light, making the
drapes nonreflective and less obtrusive. Black is the most
popular color for all stage drapes, because that color
absorbs the most light. Drapes that belong to a certain
theatre are often called the house rags.
MASKING
Masking is a term used to identify curtains that block
the audience view of the backstage area. Curtains that
mask the overhead space of a stage are called borders.
Borders are really wide but not very tall. Ideally, they
should be the same width as the battens that they are
hung on, so that they run all the way from one side of
the stage to the other. Legs mask the offstage space or
wings. Legs are tall, but usually not very wide. They
should be at least several feet taller than the proscenium
opening, but not so tall that the bottoms do not clear
sightlines when they are flown all the way out. In a
theatre with a very short fly tower, that ideal situation
might not be met and some sort of happy medium
should be reached.
A standard method exists for using legs and borders
to mask the stage. It is customary to hang one border
in front of a set of two legs in order to create a frame
for the stage picture. These leg and border sets are used
from downstage to upstage in repetition. The legs
should be wide enough, and the leg and border sets close
enough together so that the audience cannot see around
them into the wings. Sometimes this is not possible if
there is very little offstage space, and/or if the audito-
rium is especially wide. Leg and border sets create the
sightlines for the stage, defining where the audience can
and cannot see. It is important for the border to be on
a separate lineset from the legs so that they are indepen-
dently adjustable. Be sure to hang the border downstage
of the two legs so that it will cover the pipe they are on.
The spaces between the border and leg sets are often
referred to as in one, in two, in three, etc. This terminol-
ogy refers to the spaces between the legs and is often
used to indicate the place where an actor or a piece of
scenery should enter. Example: “Enter through the stage
left in one with the chair and place it on the red spike
marks downstage.” Leg and border sets are a direct
descendent of the wing and drop scenery used in early
proscenium theatres. Setting up the stage that way was
so efficient that it is still done today.
Another specific piece of masking consists of a
large black drape that covers the entire width of the
stage, either at the rear of the stage, or about halfway
back, or both. This curtain is used as a dark back-
ground that covers the back wall and forms a crossover,
or as a covering device for shifting scenery upstage
while a scene is being played downstage. This type of
curtain is commonly known as a blackout. It is most
often constructed as two solid panels that are hung side
by side. You can also put together a blackout from
multiple sets of legs that are overlapped to create the
same effect. Be sure to overlap the edges by at least 1
foot (also equal to one tie) to prevent a split from
showing. Blackouts are often hung on a traveler track,
so that when opened that way, they form the two legs
in a leg and border set.
SPECIALTY CURTAINS
Some theatres are equipped with a batten that curves
around the entire stage area rather than merely from
side to side. This type of batten is known as a cyclorama
or cyc pipe. The two arms of the cyc run up/down stage
at the off stage ends of a regular pipe. If the cyc is meant
to be lighted in order to create a sky effect, it is known
as a sky cyc.

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